Blinken Makes Surprise Visit To Kyiv As Ukraine Faces Russian Challenge In East


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the United States for what he called a “crucial package” of aid, as he hosted talks Tuesday in Kyiv with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Blinken arrived in the country hours earlier on an unannounced trip to deliver what U.S. officials called a “strong message of reassurance” at a time when Ukrainian forces are facing strong attacks by Russia’s military in eastern Ukraine and are awaiting the arrival of new weapons shipments from allies help with defense. 

Zelenskyy told Blinken his visit was coming during a “tough period for the east of our country.”

During the past week, Russia has intensified its attacks on the Kharkiv region in northeastern Ukraine.

Zelenskyy said he would discuss with Blinken getting the new U.S. aid to Ukraine as quickly as possible, as well as bolstering Ukraine’s air defenses, including the hope that Ukraine could secure Patriot missile systems to help protect Kharkiv.

Blinken said the United States, along with other Ukrainian partners, are determined to make sure Ukraine has what it needs to be successful in fighting the Russian invasion.

“We know this is a challenging time, but we also know that in the near-term the assistance is now on the way,” Blinken said. “Some of it has already arrived, more of it will be arriving, and that’s going to make a real difference against the ongoing Russian aggression on the battlefield.”

Blinken’s visit also includes talks with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and delivering a speech in Kyiv.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement that Blinken would “discuss battlefield updates, the impact of new U.S. security and economic assistance, long-term security and other commitments, and ongoing work to bolster Ukraine’s economic recovery.”

The United States Friday announced its latest contribution to Ukraine’s war effort in the form of a $400 million package of weapons and equipment.

The White House said Monday it is doing “everything” possible to rush weapons to Ukraine to fight against the Russian ground offensive in the Kharkiv region.

“We’re doing everything humanly possible, both ourselves and our allies,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters, adding that a new arms package would be announced “just in the coming days.”

Outmanned and outgunned, Ukrainian forces are waiting for the badly needed U.S. military aid to arrive.

Russia’s defense ministry said it destroyed 25 Ukrainian missiles over the Belgorod region, located on the Russian side of the border from Kharkiv.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the regional governor of Belgorod, said Tuesday on Telegram that the attack injured one person and damaged more than 20 houses.

Ukraine’s air force reported Tuesday destroying all 18 Russian drones launched in overnight attacks, with intercepts taking place over Cherkasy, Donetsk, Kherson, Khmelnytskyi, Kirovohrad, Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia.

Russia’s new war economy

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s move to appoint an economist as its new defense minister indicates Moscow’s intention to build a war economy, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Monday. 

“Russia is moving almost its entire economy onto military lines. It will be a militaristic country, and its economy will be built exclusively to produce for the military,” Podolyak told Reuters.

Putin on Sunday named Andrei Belousov, a 65-year-old former deputy prime minister who specializes in economics, as his new defense minister. 

Former Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will become the secretary of Russia’s powerful Security Council and have responsibilities for the military-industrial complex, the Kremlin said.

“Without a doubt, these changes that we see today, they are evidence of the complete transformation of the Russian Federation,” Podolyak said.


The VOA is the Voice of America

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